Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Stuck in the Shire (at least that's what my spellcheck keeps telling me)


Contributors: Daniel, Paul A

An extended edition of IBG last night with the meet starting at the earlier time of 5pm, and although we spent a lot of the extra time simply hanging out and chatting we managed to get more than the usual amount of gaming packed into the evening.

We started the evening with a bash at the exceedingly obtuse collection of crossword clues that is the Shire Games quiz. Neil was stuck on the last two questions but despite our efforts to confound him even further Paul A managed to suss out one of the answers for him. Nineteen down, and one to go!

Royal Goods made a return with guest member Richard picking the game up quickly despite Tomtoo's best attempts at being disruptive. Oh, the little scamp that he is.

We then delved into a five player game of CVlizations. I'm still not sure what to make of this one; the passive thief mechanic remains one of my least favourite ways to shoehorn 'interaction' into a game and it didn't help that I got pummeled heavily with this in the first couple of rounds. This put me in an awkward spot of having to buy whatever I could afford from the available idea cards regardless of whether or not they worked with the rest of my tableau. Despite being unable to create any synergy with my card purchases I still managed to romp to a convincing victory. So I managed to win pretty much by accident rather than design, even though I didn't feel like I was in with any sort of chance for most of the game. So I dunno, I like playing it but is it one of those over-balanced anyone-can-win-regardless games?

Codenames made the table once again, with Tom Juan and myself as the cluemasters. Given his opening clue, Tom clearly had a bit of confusion over which colour he was playing. For some reason I managed to be in an upward lucid cycle with my own clues which makes a change from the garbled nonsense that I usually spout when playing this. 

We were miles ahead with a single card left to go when Tom's word-hunters amusingly handed us our inevitable victory by selecting the card that I had already given an incredibly blatant clue belonged to us.

We also enjoyed a cracking game of Dark Moon, with some stellar moments. The highlight was everybody passing in turn on a difficulty 10 task we knew we could never make, which encouraged the infected to also both drop out, and then Tonio, last in turn order, decides to go ahead with it anyway and manages to one-shot it on his first roll.

We clocked who the bad guys were fairly early on despite Noel's very best "poker face" and Paul's rigid impression of a shop mannekin every time his motives were questioned. Despite riding very close to the wire at one point with a dodgy shields situation, the uninfected had a strong run for our first ever victory for the good guys.

What else? Machi Koro was in play for quite a while, that old Knizia classic Samurai made an appearance, we saved the world in Thunderbirds, plenty of Tabletop Curling action despite the wonky table messing up many shots, and some more stuff surely going on that I've missed.


* Table curling: a ridiculous, absurd game that is also a lot of fun. I am particularly enamoured of how they actually put little handles on the balls (stones?) and how they curve their way down the field.

* Dark moon: and us aliens nearly had you.

* Codenames: fun as ever. Not that the other team put up much of a fight.

* Warhammer Quest: interesting, although I still don't have much of a feel for it yet. It seems better than Pathfinder, which is increasingly colourless to me, with more choices. Like to get back to this.

* Thunderbirds: The Hood was defeated. This was my second outing with this game and improving in my eyes. I expect to find a copy in the hands of every 40-year man in the UK.

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Short and Unpronouncable, there's a joke in there somewhere

Contributors: John B (well, sort of), Daniel (even less so I'm afraid), David (a bit more like it)

IBG once again relocated to the Town Wharf for the evening, but little is known of the proceedings with an unfortunately spartan set of reports. As we only know of two games that were played I will try to fill you in as best I can. 

I was surprised to discover that the exotically titled "Pi Mal Pflaumen" is not German for "pick my plums" but something more along the lines of "the rule of thumb". I can only guess that they are referring to Tom Thumb, who is the only Thumb that I know of apart from Mr. Leftie and Ms. RIghtie, and I'm still struggling with what his rules are and what they have to do with plums in the first place. I guess that Peter Piper once stuck his own thumb in a pickled plum, and therefore there is a sound link that suggests this is a game all about tongue twisters based on various fruits with the winner being the person left with the smallest fruit at the end. No, I don't have a clue what this is really about, but as John forgot to tell us all my rambling is the best you're gonna get for now.

The other game that was played was Dice Town, which I can reliably inform you, according to James at least, is not the same game as Dice City, which is the much larger conurbation situated further upstream and the alledged source of all the brown river water that we're not supposed to drink. Of course, I remember when all of this was just Dice Fields, as far as the eye could see, back when Dice Village was merely four pips and a tavern on the crossroads.

That's about it (apparently) so enjoy so plum-based art for now and see you next week!

Update: David has chipped in with some additional revelations on the night that (almost) never was.

With San Juan: Second Edition and Warhammer Quest: The Adventure Card Game in full swing John B, Sarah and I settled down for a game of Dice City. A charming game of dice-crafting with multiple paths to victory. Each of us took a slightly different strategy with John B going for a combination of both military and trade routes whereas I had decided to build an engine to grab the high victory point trade ships, the only question was would I have time to implement my strategy. Sarah meanwhile had opted for something in between. After a while it reached the critical moment where John B could have ended the game but thankfully for me let the game continue a few more turns which allowed me to grab the much needed trade ships which propelled me to a close victory. I enjoyed it more than something like Machi Koro although it can feel like a bit of a solitaire experience with limited player interaction. There is also the element of luck with the dice rolls however there is always something to do and you never feel as though a poor roll screws your turn too badly with plenty of chances to mitigate these by spreading building placement. Even though I'm not a fan of the artwork and theme I enjoyed it enough to happily play it again as it's fast and fun with a lot of options.

Once we had finished we headed over to see that TomToo, Raj, Gareth and James B were struggling to overcome the dungeon in Warhammer Quest: The Adventure Card Game (not to be confused with the far superior Warhammer Quest *ahem* wow) whereas the other table had finished up San Juan: Second Edition and rolled out El Grande only to be told they had to move downstairs as the upstairs was closing as they had just set up. Cue the mass migration of Spain.

I was feeling under the weather a bit but decided to watch TomToo et al fall at the final hurdle in Warhammer Quest: The Adventure Card Game. It looked as though they came close with Gareth the last man standing before his eventual demise. After that I called it a night (and the year).

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Wombling Free with Mr. John B

Contributor: Daniel

A bijou nonet last night with some Essen stragglers and kickstarter fare making an appearance alongside some golden oldies.

Codenames, in which increasingly bizarre logic was applied to the cluemaster's inane ramblings, resulting in the usual catastrophes all round.

Forge Wars (?) or something or other. Busy KS business, Sarah looked like she wanted to be anywhere else but sat at that table, but James by all accounts managed to catch up on some shut eye, so there's a silver lining.

El Cabellero, which is basically Carcassonne with a points cost and a delayed scoring mechanism. Phillipe put all his effort into protecting one massive tract of land which gave me the freedom to extend my line of conquistador bastards into multiple scoring opportunities, a tactic which worked massively in my favour. Poor David was boxed into a corner as a result of us flanking him on both sides and struggled to break out.

Robinson Crusoe, new to both David and Phillipe, great to get this corker out again. We were repeatedly kicked in the balls for much of the game with snake bites, broken arms, and vicious attacks from dive-bombing Finches. In fairness, we did eat all their baby-eggs.

Exploration and scavenging were a real struggle, particularly as we kept drawing events that exhausted our supply of driftwood and food, but the upside was building up a nice fat stack of wild animal cards along the way. We kept morale up as high as possible so that, as the Soldier, I could afford to go hunting as soon as possible, and Chef David could keep us from starving. Philpetto the carpenter (yes, he's a real boy) was able to get our shelter up with roof and all just in time for the bad weather, which led to only minor starvation and hypothermia. Despite going right to the wire (and when does this game ever finish easily?) we managed to complete the scenario with a victory - hurrah for us!

Underground, Overground, some sort of Womble game anyway, where John B, Tom Lee Travis, and Raj built happy little villages only to subsequently send all the cheery inhabitants to meet their terrible fate in a dungeon of doom. Seems to be one of those games that is on the zeitgeist of putting paragraphs of flavour text into Eurogames, leaping forward into game design circa 1987. What will those crazy guys get up to next, day-glo nylon socks and hugging strangers in a remote Hampshire field?

Plus there was also Automatica (or something), wherein the Wombles switched to car production in what appeared to be an insanely busy yet seemingly intuitive game about production chains and making vroom-vroom noises.

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Isleworth Boardgamers get lost in time, space, and mumble mumble mumble

Contributors: Daniel, David

To get the evening started, an IBGer who shall remain nameless persuaded us to try out his latest purchase Die Fiesen 7 which I think is German for "surely you can all count up to seven right? I mean, there's only three rules in this game, it isn't difficult or anything." The activity here is to basically count up to seven and then back down to one again, except sometimes you don't say a number, and at other times you have to mumble into your hand. It is a total load of crap and comes to an end when somebody becomes so bored by proceedings that they can no longer be bothered to keep track of where the count is currently at. I mean really, you only have to count to seven and back, and that is the extent of the entertainment. Off the poop rail with ye!

Next up, I joined Tom Juan and Original Flavour James in a bash at the much-hyped TIME Stories. It's difficult to provide a session report for this that doesn't give the game away, so I'll focus on the overall impression that the game made on me. I like the concept but found that the gameplay was very linear with the game leading us all the way through. Maybe we were just a bunch of idiot savants when it came to this game but our first play concluded with an 'Heroic' success within just a couple of hours. Everything just seemed to be so obvious, inclusing the rather silly moment involving a sink plunger that we knew wasn't going to end well but decided to follow through anyway. The game uses a system of tokens that look like very simple QA codes, and they could have exploited this system very easily to implement branching pathways. However, they haven't got anywhere past changing the text slightly to discern which way you came into a room, or whether or not you've been there before, which is a complete waste of potential. Ultimately, it ends up being a very straightforward story that slavishly repeats all the Lovecarftian cliches you hope they would avoid. Even so, it was kind of interesting to play despite being quite a shallow pool to paddle in, however I can't say that I have been left with much desire to play any of the other 'adventures' that are being released for this system.


We started the evening with Coup: Guatemala 1954. I play a lot of regular Coup and Coup: Reformation so have wanted to try this out for a while and I wasn't disappointed. It mixes things up by removing the fixed roles of Coup and adds a large number of different variants, I can imagine no two games being the same. Myself, Jon, Noel, Peter and Magnus started with the Radio Operator, Banker, Secret Police, Missionary and US Consulate as the characters. After a round where four people claimed the banker we soon reached the stage where myself and Jon were targeted by Coups. I used the Secret Police on Magnus but then unwisely called his bluff when he claimed to have the Telegraph Network and was knocked out quite early. After Jon and then Peter were eliminated it came down to Noel who had the last Secret Police but waited until he had 7 Coins to use Coup to finish off Magnus. After playing this I'm not sure I would want to play regular Coup that much now and is something I would love to pick up.

After Dan, Tom and James settled down for an evening of T.I.M.E Stories the rest of us split into two tables. TomTom, Raj and Magnus went for the new Fury of Dracula (Third Edition) whilst myself, Jon, Peter and Noel decided on San Juan (Second Edition). I believe I was the only one who hadn't played it before but I had played Puerto Rico so it wasn't that big a leap and was easy to pick up. I really enjoyed this one and is exactly the sort of game I enjoy, I started with the rather unspectacular Tower as my opening few hands were limited to expensive buildings meaning I had to play a bit of catch up. Although I managed to turn it around towards the end by utilising a Quarry and Carpenter Combo along with the Library. This allowed me to catch up but ultimately not enough. It ended with Jon on 30, Noel on 27 and myself and Peter on 25. Not sure how this game slipped past me all these years but I thought it was great and is another game I would want to play again.

As both T.I.M.E Stories and Fury of Dracula (Third Edition) were still going on we ended the evening with a game Pictomania. My drawing/scribbling hasn't improved although hats off to Noel for guessing Horseradish Sauce from my misshapen attempt at a horse and bulbous radish.

After that I headed home whilst the games continued.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Big Ticket and the Last Chance Fluke

Contributors: Paul, Daniel

After the TTR for the British Isles, the map was flipped, some of the players stayed and some were replaced, and TTR Pennsylvania was revealed. This time is was James, Peter, Jon and Paul that took on the different challenge of building routes while collecting shares for the various Penn railway companies in the golden age of the industrial iron horse. Routes between the industrial cities of the American North east were up for grabs.
Most route segments on the board reward the claimant with a share in one of the railroad companies. Each company has a different number of shares and a decreasing reward for the shareholders with the most, second most, third most shares and so on.

This variant is similar in concept to Santa Fe rails or Chicago Express, but is all within the Ticket to Ride system - how neat. Peter commented that it 'felt more like Ticket to Ride' that the British Isles version, which apparently had felt like a whole different game.

Jon set about monopolising the south of the board which has many more little routes, hence more opportunities for collecting shares, but of course which collect fewer 'in game' points. He soon found himself slugging it out for the biggest share company with the most points, the Pennsylvania Railroad, with Peter. Peter also took a set of new routes, 4 in total, and caused the other players to draw breath when he decided to keep them all. Paul was going for the longer routes of the north, which yielded less shares but more points for laying the routes (a la classic TTR). James was also in the North, but with a slightly more watered down 'long route' strategy than Paul.
At the end of normal pay, Paul as predictably in the lead because he'd caused the game end by being the first to lay all of his trains and had created many routes with 5 and 6 sections. But would the points from the completed tickets and the share holdings be enough to catch Paul? Peter also gained 15 bonus points from having the most completed routes, but he'd not managed to complete them all and so had some negative scores to contend with. Likewise Jon and James had one or two incomplete tickets, whereas Paul had only four tickets, but they were largely of high value and he'd completed them all. So after the tickets were added up Paul still had his nose ahead, albeit by a smaller margin. Then the shares were added, which were counted up smallest company to largest. Paul's two shares in the Penn RR which enough for third place in the biggest company, gave him enough points to pip Peter in a hard fought battle which saw two different strategies come very close. James was third and Jon was left lamenting his tickets, shorter routes and huge stock in the PRR which maybe wasn't quite worth the money.

Results: 1: Paul, 2: Peter, 3: James, 4: Jon


Apart from the double-up on the new TTR maps there was some miniatures slaying going on at the top table, some crappy birthday gifts handed out, wonky castles (Soren was persuaded that Bezier do have some good games after all), and a successful run in Burgle Bros (with an exceptionally fluky final event card draw that opened up the victory after we had boxed ourselves into a seemingly impossible situation).

Castles of Ludwig did it's thing as always, with two newbies at the table in David and a rather grumpy "I hate Suburbia" Soren (unless that's how he always is?). The new lads took to the game instatnly and kept pace with myself and Tom, hardy building-site veterans that we are. I tried for a bonus card strategy and had a good run at it but Soren was determined to buy rooms that I needed and had the edge on me in our little competition. He also skillfully leveraged his deep dungeon network to squeeze out every last point that he could, which served him well in a convincing win. Tom came in a close second by working the goal tiles really well while David focussed on activity rooms for a bonus score and a goal tile; four differen't strategies and four very close scores.

With Tom and Soren disappearing to the far end of the room to play toy soldiers, I set up Burgle Bros. with Alex and James, a game I have been keen to have another tilt at after the recent brain wrangling session the otehr week. This time round I had a clearer idea of what to do and the lads picked it up quickly. We spread out onto three floors so that we could better manipulate the guards as well as slow them down (with less players on a floor it takes longer for the guard to exhaust it's patrol deck). We also made good use of hacking the computer rooms which saved us many times over in alarm rooms.

We managed to get all three treasures without too much stress, and Alex made a quick exit as he was hanging out near the rooftop stairs. But then the trouble set in; because both James and I were on our very last 'life' we could not afford to get caught even once. We found ourselves in an awkward situation where the top floor guard was heading toward the entrance to that floor and only one tile away, but the entrance was also blocked on the three other sides. If we went up there then we would get busted one way or the other - cue much wailing and gnashing of teeth. Without any other option I drew the very last event card, wondering if we would find anything that could help us at all - and drew a 'Freight Elevator' card that allowed me to go up to the top floor in a different place. The guard was released from his stasis and cleared out of the way of the exit at the end of my turn, allowing James and then myself to make a quick exit. An awesome finish to a great game!

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

A Rinky Dink time at IBG

Contributors: Daniel, Paul D, David

 Another balmy November evening, we'll be turning up in short sleeves and flip flops one of these nights, and another big crowd with four tables on the go at one point.

I kicked off the night with a few rounds of the future game of the year (tm); Soren played a much better game of it than I did but left the door open for my final rock to cruelly bump him out of his winning position. Still loving this one.

Then a great deal of dithering was had over which games would be played, eventually settling for Inhabit the Earth, Burgle Bros. and Caylus. Some last minute stragglers came through the door but I have no idea what they got up to.
Burgle Bros was intense with thoroughly deserved italics. There is a multi-level dungeon tower block in which your adventurers spies are trying to steal three precious items whilst avoiding the traps alarms and roaming monsters security guards. As you progress the guards begin to speed up, and triggering alarms sends them on a bee-line to your current location (which you sometimes want to happen to prevent them going to a place you want them to avoid). The tiles that make up each level start off both random and blind with the risk that entering a tile without first of all peeking at it can sometimes cause catastrophic reactions, which Tom's nose-dive off a balcony can attest to. You have three evasion tokens which are effectively 'lives'; you lose one each time you are 'caught' by a guard and everyone loses the game if someone is caught without any tokens left.

You also have to explore most of each level in order to be able to collect the treasure so there is a tense game of cat-and-mouse as you try to keep everyone out of the guards path while gradually opening up as much of the map as is needed.

I get the impression that higher player counts make the game harder as there is more chance of being caught by the roaming guards with four movements between each of your turns, and we spent the last few rounds trying to avoid losing rather than productively chasing victory. Eventually we failed on the final floor a good few turns short of being able to collect the last of the treasures and make our escape from the rooftop.

It also turned out to be quite a long game when I think it might be more suited to filler or short game length; it was enjoyable though and I'll play it again.

Royal Goods did it's thing again; Dom picked up the game very easily and put in a good show, but Tom took the win leaving me frustrated at being a single assistant short of matching his score (darn lack of yellow cards, grumble grumble).

We then had a couple of rounds of Fake Artist played the proper way - a single shared picture and not allowed to remove your pen from the paper. Highlights were the world's weirdest looking Duck, James' "no, no, you go first" moment as the fake artist, and the fact that neither Sandra or her sister appear to have been in a pub before despite beer pretty much being invented in Germany and, erm, them sitting in one at the time. 


Tom, Alex, James III and I also played a game of codewords at the start. Love this game and the challenge of coming up with words to tie two or more other words together (not ever wanting to settle for the easy way out with just one answer). 'Lemon' and 'Egypt' were two that I struggled with on Wednesday, and 'sharp' almost did it... but not quite (James wasn't visualising the top of a pyramid in the same moment as me).
I joined the Burgle Bros game with a bit of trepidation as I have seriously fallen out of love with cooperative games in recent times (as my snooze during Robinson Crusoe and badly hidden Scowl in Sentinels of the Multiverse show). I find that it's very difficult to either avoid the alpha gamer scenario or avoid a scenario where one person isn't holding the others back and they try not to be the alpha gamer, but you can tell that they want to get on with things in 'their way', or even just let one player do things because they really want to even if it isn't best for the game. But I liked the artwork and the 'heist' theme so took the tentative step. (BTW - I felt that the theme was great and came through naturally, and I'm not sure that a dungeon is the appropriate 'default' theme for games of this genre - or at least I hope not).

AND I REALLY LIKED IT. Maybe because it was the first play for us all, it seemed to be very balanced in terms of player input, but I think that it was actually a very well thought through, well themed game, in which I felt like I was creeping around a building trying to avoid guards and look out for my buddies and escape with the goodies. And yes I also felt the intensity that Dan mentioned. There were many times when we thought we'd had it cracked and were just about to get away with it, but then someone took an unnecessary risk, fell through the floor, or triggered an alarm that we didn't expect so the guard came rushing in. I liked the combination of puzzle, coop and theme so much that I'd even play it again. Thumbs up from me.


After a bit of umming and erring myself, Jon, James III and Alex decided on a game of Caylus. Even though it's been around for some time now I've never had the opportunity to play it until now. A great worker placement game with resource management and some player interaction. Jon had great timing utilising and maximising the King's Favour to take a sizeable lead whilst Alex played a longer game by concentrating on buildings and attempting to control what was being built. Whereas James and I went for a mixed strategy that didn't really pay off. In the end Jon won comfortably, James pipped me to second place and Alex ended last, although a couple more turns would have seen Alex's strategy pay off but unfortunately he ran out of time.

The high point of the game was convincing Alex that I wouldn't move to Provost and encouraging him to move it up to prevent James from activating the Gold Mine only for me to then stab him in the back and move it up further to prevent him from activating a big resource producing building. Thankfully there was a table between us laugh

It's a wonderful game and something I would happily play again.

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Nope, not THAT sort of Curling

Contributors: Daniel, David

Three tables on the go last night, let's see if I can remember as far back as, erm, fifteen hours ago...

Lots of sitting around chatting until some bright spark said "Hey! Let's actually play a game?" and off we went with Royal Goods. It's funny in that it seems to require a lot of explanation in order to get a game going, but is really so compact and simple that it moves pretty quickly once you do get underway. Jon surprised himself by almost winning despite a very slow start and accumulating a massive hand of cards (thus dispelling his initial fears of only drawing two cards per round and not being able to produce or build anything as a result), but the joint honours went to Peter and Tom. Meanwhile, David, Raj, Alex, and James exploded some Kittens in 'that' Oatmeal game.

Next up I was off to Tracey Island yet again, with Tom, James, and Alex joining me in a comprehensive smashing of The Hood's mischevious machinations. We had an early game wobble with three consecutive space missions and Thunderbird 3 stuck in space due to John Tracey not only being a character in play but also last in turn order! It took some judicious planning and burning up of bonus tokens in order for Tom (playing John, our space hero) to prevent us losing the game before the first full round was over. After that we held the game in check without any real risk and motored on to an easy win.

Then the highlight of the night with the inaugural IBG mini all-comers World Championship Tabletop Curling event, or, err, IBGMACWCTCE. Tom strode ahead into the lead with a series of quick wins before James, the consummate Curling-sharp, stepped up to the plate claiming that he didn't really know how to play before totally owning both Tom and myself with a calm, measured performance. However, Tom once again rose to the top by knocking James off his pedestal with some startlingly aggressive play (it's not Billiards Tom!), and began to refer to himself as unbeatable. Despite, or maybe because of, Tom's mis-timed braggadocio, I then hit a golden streak where I simply could not be shifted from the table. We played many many rounds, mainly due to the constant calls of "just five more minutes!" from Jon and Paul, and this game just does not get old. Game of the year, I tells ye.

Some people then went home and, after slipping in a quick game of Codenames, we were left with CVlizations on one table and Medieval Academy on the other. For Medieval Academy we used the alternative boards for the tournament and it really is different; far more strategic as you have to consider the impact of playing both sides of the combat as well as maxing your position on at least one side. It also only resolves every other round so the rewards are much larger. I like this alternate board very much and I'm curious to try some of the other variants now. Other games? Jon and Paul played something about German Trams a couple of times, and there was a long game of something beige that strangely didn't look much like a Eurogame (I'm sure David can provide more details on that one?) Plus there was more Curling action between Jon and Paul, who looked like they were actually playing the game properly and with due consideration as opposed to our smash-up tournament earlier in the evening.


Started the evening with a game of Exploding Kittens with myself, James, Alex and Paul. You play a limited number of cards from your hand before picking up a card from the deck, if you pick up an exploding kitten you are removed from the game unless you use a defuse card which you start with or can steal from others. There's very little in the way of choice or actions to affect the game and it comes down to luck of the draw. I have the same sort of feelings towards this as Love Letter or Fluxx, where I like them as two player games as they are quick, pointless and fun. However when you add more players they aren't so much fun and they take too long.
As Royal Goods was still going strong we started a game of Codenames, Paul was the caller on my team and Alex was the caller on James' team. At one point I guessed Bugle for his clue of Dog, for some reason I read it as Beagle without thinking laugh. Despite my dimwittedness we still managed to comfortably beat James and Alex ninja

After that Raj and then Gareth turned up, I believe Royal Goods was still going on so we played another game of Codenames. Gareth joined my and Paul's team and Raj joined James and Alex's team. This was a thorough pasting as we guessed every clue Paul gave us as James and Raj struggled with some of Alex's cryptic clues. It really is a lovely game.
By the time we had finished the other table had wrapped up as well so we split off into three tables. Raj, Myself, Peter and Gareth started a game of Mercante. Each player controls a merchant house that has it's own unique ability with the objective of buying goods via auctions and then selling onto the open market. It's a straight forward trading mechanic, buy low sell high, however players can play event cards that can affect the price or even close certain markets. These they stay for a number of turns in the calender before they are bumped off by newer events. Raj and Gareth were dominating most of the early auctions and making tidy profits whilst Peter and I were going for the long game, hiring more agents and collecting more contracts. 

However Raj was unstoppable, reaching 80 crowns (one of the win conditions) about halfway through. We were all too busy concentrating on our own actions to really throw a spanner in the works and Raj was making vast profits from selling luxury goods at inflated prices. I fear my rules run through was a bit scatter gun so it took a while to get going although it looked like everyone picked it up quickly despite my best efforts blush The auction and trading works well with the event cards throwing in a bit of player interaction and theme to spice things up. However the Merchant House cards can tend to dictate on how you end up playing.

After that Alex and Peter headed home and we settled for another game of Codenames, with Tom, Dan and Raj on one team and Gareth, myself and James on the other. This was another clean sweep by us as we managed to guess all of James' clues quite easily.